Sex and the Genre: The Role of Sex in Popular Romance

Publication year

According to the review at the Journal of Popular Romance Studies

Codruţa Goşa’s ‘Sex and the Genre: The Role of Sex in Popular Romance’ [...] begins with an unequivocal definition of what constitutes a piece of ‘romance’ fiction; this definition is cited directly from the Romance Writers of America website and from the personal website of Jennifer Crusie (15). Goşa’s chapter thus considers ‘romance’ to be a contemporary classification of fiction based on publishing categories; it goes on to consider the representations of sexual behaviour in a very small subset of such fiction – three US novels (published in 1989, 1993 and 1999), chosen due to their availability in Romanian translation, which is taken as an indication of their international popularity (17). Based on this selection, the author suggests that she can ‘safely argue’ for the construction of a conservative reader who ‘does not like to work hard in order to grasp what is going on’ (27). The complex issues raised by the use of works in translation – as well as consideration of the respective conservatism or creativity of the translations used in the study – are not addressed in the chapter.

The introduction to the volume itself says that

Codruţa Goşa’s chapter Sex and the Genre: The Building of Sexual Tension and Its Role in Popular Romance reports her analysis and discussion of the place and role of sex scenes as defining elements for the building of sexual tension in contemporary romance novels. Her chapter documents and substantiates the claim that the romantic genre places great importance upon, and relies heavily on, such scenes, which play a crucial role. Her corpus is constructed by selecting three romance authors – all of Anglo-American origin - whose works are best-sellers in Romania. The novels selected for analysis have different settings: historical, fantastic, and contemporary. Goşa compares and contrasts the sequence, context and protagonists of the most important erotic encounters, and the particularities of the language used.

The three novels selected were: Nora Roberts's Enchanted (1999) (part of the The Donovan Legacy series); Sandra Brown's Fanta C (1993); Judith McNaught's A Kingdom of Dreams (1989).